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Get Into a Kayak

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A kayak instructor demonstrates the proper way to get into a kayak.

A kayak instructor demonstrates the proper way to get into a kayak.

© 2008 by George E. Sayour

Every kayaker has at one time or other had difficulty while trying to get into a kayak. That small fact doesn't eliminate the embarrassment one feels when it happens to them. There are some steps you can take to reduce the risk of ending up soaked before you even get started. In the end it does require practice, balance, and a little bit of luck.

Difficulty: Average
Time Required: 30 seconds (each time)

Here's How:

  1. Decide Where You Will Get Into Your Kayak
    When you get to the place you will paddle you will need to decide where you will enter the water. Look for a calm area that is free from rocks and is in shallow water.

  2. Decide How You Will Get Into Your Kayak
    If you are paddling a whitewater kayak or a short plastic sea or recreational kayak, you may want to get into your kayak while on land and push your way into the water by pushing off of the ground while in the kayak and sliding the boat into the water. If this is your preferred method of getting into your kayak then simply look for a level rock or spot on the ground to place your kayak, get in, and push your way into the water. Be sure to keep your paddle on your deck or in one hand while you do this. If you will get into your kayak while it is in the water go to step 2.

  3. Place Your Kayak in the Water
    Go ahead and slide your kayak into the water bow (front) first. Be sure to keep your hand firmly on the stern (back ) grab loop. Position the kayak so that the cockpit area is in shallow enough water to stand in. It may be a good idea to position the kayak along side of the shore but it is not necessary.

  4. Stand Next To Your Kayak
    Grab your paddle in one hand and walk along side of the kayak up to the cockpit area. It doesn't matter which side you get into. For the sake of these instructions let's say you are getting into the kayak from the left side of the kayak. Be sure to keep contact with your free hand (your right hand) and the boat at all times.

  5. Secure the Boat
    Place the Paddle perpendicular to the boat and just behind the seat in the kayak and up against the cockpit rim. Then put your closest hand (right hand) across the kayak and on the paddle. The palm of your right hand should be on the paddle and your fingers should be holding onto the cockpit rim. Steady the kayak.

  6. Begin to Get Into the Kayak
    Place your right leg into the kayak and into position. Shift your weight and rear end over the kayak while keeping your left foot on the ground.

  7. Sit on the Kayak
    At this point you are holding the paddle with your right hand and your right leg is in the kayak. Your left foot is still on the ground. Grab the paddle with your left hand. The paddle should be behind your back. Place your but on the back of the kayak and sit down on the back of the cockpit.

  8. Place Your Other Leg Into the Kayak
    Steady yourself with your but on the kayak, your two hands gripping the paddle on either side of your body, and with your right foot on the floor of the kayak. Go ahead and bring your other leg into the kayak.

  9. Slide Into the Kayak
    Make sure you have good balance. At this point you are sitting on the back of the kayak and your feet are in the kayak. Your hands are still on the back of the cockpit and firmly on the paddle. Slide into the kayak.

  10. Put On Your Spray Skirt
    Make sure your kayak is steady, in calm water, and not drifting. It may be a good idea to position the kayak parallel to the shore so you can use the shore for support while putting on your spray skirt. Look for a future article on how to put on your spray skirt.

What You Need

  • Kayak
  • Paddle
  • PFD
  • Spray Skirt (optional)

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